After falling behind 1-0 in Tuesday’s 6A Conference 1 semifinals volleyball match, the Kellam girls gathered before the second set and assistant coach Chuck Lewis gave the same speech he’s given all season.
“Go have some fun and play your game,” Lewis told the group. “Do your job; don’t play tight.”
The Knights surged for three straight sets to win 3-1 (21-25, 25-19, 25-14, 25-18) against Cox in their contest at Tallwood High and advance to the conference finals.
“We didn’t start out with our best effort,” said Lewis. “But we made our adjustments that were needed. That’s basically the bottom and the top.”
Lauren Baumgardner orchestrated (43 assists) an offensive show that featured eight Knights registering kills. Anna Salasky (11 kills) was a force on the outside. Kellam’s double-headed monster in the middle — featuring Madison Trypuc (nine kills, six blocks) and Tori Morris (eight kills, five blocks) — was too much for the Falcons.
Allison Clark finished with nine kills and six digs. Defensively, Knights libero Savannah Marshall registered a game-high 20 digs in a performance that’s become common for the junior.
Kellam was playing without their leading outside hitter Katie Piper, who is still recovering from an ankle injury.
The win launches Kellam into the conference final against First Colonial. Having won the conference regular season crown, the Knights already have a 6A Region playoff berth regardless of the conference tournament outcome.
“It’s a progression of small little focus points,” Lewis said. “We focus on what’s happening right now. … Have to take care of today. No future without it.”
The Falcons came out strong but appeared to run out of gas after the first set.
Cox was outscored 75-51 in the final three sets and never matched the intensity of its first set win.
“We just went flat,” Falcons coach Jason Zuidema said after the loss. “It’s hard to comeback from losing a set against a good team. We lost that mentality and played a little timid at that point. We started to play a little softer against a good team like that and they took advantage of it.”
Bella Marko and Gracie Johnson led Cox with four kills each. Taylor Dunn finished with seven assists.